Kelly's Garage - Active Green and Ross - November 2014


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The topic I’m covering this month is catalytic converters.  The reason I chose this is that I’ve had problems with mine and wanted to share with you my experience.  So if something like this should happen to you in the future it might help.  The vehicle I drive is a 2002 Lexus RX300 with around 250,000kms.  I’ve never had an exhaust issue, however, recently I noticed that my vehicle didn’t seem to have any power and it was burning more gas.  Eventually it got so bad, that as I was going up a hill my vehicle would slow down to 20 km/hr.  I turned around and went straight to the shop!  Remember, I always say your vehicle talks to you.  In this case it was talking really loud.  Turns out my catalytic converters are all clogged up and I have three of them!  The saga continues as I still am dealing with getting my vehicle.  Keep reading to find out what your catalytic converter does and what are some of the signs.





Catalytic converters were first created in 1950 by a french engineer for smoke stacks.  They were widely used in vehicles since 1975.

This month's topic: Catalytic converters

Catalytic converters are called “cats” for short. Don’t get them confused with our furry friends if your technician should use this word.:-) Their function is to reduce emissions from the internal combustion engine. Catalytic converters are also used on electrical generators, forklifts, trucks, buses, airplanes, motorcycles and mining equipment.

In 1975, California passed the Clean Air Act and this is why all of a sudden vehicles started to be equipped with catalytic converters which are part of your vehicle’s exhaust system. Prior to this, many hazardous gases were being expelled into the atmosphere from our exhaust and this was the biggest contributor to ground level ozone which creates smog and is harmful to plant life.

Signs that your catalytic converter may be plugged are you may notice a reduction in power from the engine. It almost feels like it is governed and won’t let you go above a certain speed. So you push the gas harder to try and go faster and it just won’t go! This will lead to a reduction in fuel economy. This is another sign and also a reason for checking your fuel economy every so often. It can be quite significant. (I was getting almost 100 kms less per fill up.)

Your catalytic converter can become clogged due to other issues in your engine. It could be that you have fouled spark plugs which is causing unburned gas to overheat the converter, or you could have bad exhaust valve. These are just a couple of causes. Your Active Green and Ross technician would be able to give you more information regarding this as they diagnose the problem. If your catalytic converter is completely plugged your vehicle will run for a short time and then it will quit because of the increase in exhaust back pressure. Don’t let it get to this stage. Listen to what your vehicle is telling you.

TIP: Don’t park over areas of tall grass or piles of dry leaves. Your catalytic converter gets very hot and it is part of your exhaust system which is on the bottom of your vehicle.


The first picture shows you the full exhaust system of a vehicle. The second image shows an actual catalytic converter. They don’t all look exactly like this but similar.

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